Sunday, 19 October 2014

Blake's Seven Review: Series B Episode 8 - Hostage

"Blake, this is not a trick. Like yourself, I am now a fugitive from the Federation. It is time we pooled our resources. Together we might survive. Alone the Federation will pick us off one at a time."
 - Travis

The Story
 After surviving a heavy assault by Federation pursuit ships, the Liberator is contacted by Travis who has a message for Blake.  Travis has travelled to the planet Exbar and captured Blake's cousin Inga.  He is holding her hostage until Blake travels to the planet to talk with Travis about pooling their resources against the Federation.  Despite suspecting a trap, Blake decides to travel to Exbar to see Travis and rescue his cousin.


Travelling to Exbar, Blake teleports down alone and meets his uncle, Ushton, who tells him where he can find Travis and Inga.  After Blake has gone to look for Travis, Ushton radios Travis and informs him that Blake is on his way. 

Meanwhile, Avon who seems to feel guilty about letting Blake go down the planet alone, teleports down to the planet with Vila.  Suspicious of Ushton, Avon leaves Vila to spy on him while Avon follows Blake to where Travis is based. 

Blake locates Travis, who is backed up by a group of hardened criminals, or 'Crimos'.  Travis has no intention of joining forces with Blake - he just wants the Liberator.  Soon after Avon and Vila are also captured.  Travis tortures Vila and forces him to reveal how to teleport up to the Liberator.  One of the Crimos is sent up to the ship but Jenna and Cally overpower him and teleport him into deep space. 

Meanwhile on the planet, Ushton helps to free Blake and the others.  They overpower Travis and kill the remaining Crimos.  Avon reveals that he had earlier sent a message to Servalan informing her that Travis was on Exbar.  She's now on her way there so Blake leaves Travis for Servalan to find and he, Avon and Vila return to the Liberator.  Some time later, Servalan does indeed find Travis.  She reminds him that, unofficially, he is still working for her and sends him after Blake once again. 

The Seven

Blake: Some of Blake's family life is revealed.  We meet his uncle Ushton (or "my father's brother" as Blake refers to him) and Ushton's daughter Inga.  Blake is clearly attracted to Inga and she obviously feels likewise.  It's unclear whether they had previously been in a relationship or whether their love was an unspoken one. 

Avon: Initially, Avon does his best to dissuade Blake from travelling to Exbar.  When he fails to prevent Blake from teleporting down to the planet he follows him in secret which seems somewhat out of character for Avon.  However all becomes clear when it's later revealed that Avon has informed the Federation of Travis' whereabouts and that Servalan is on her way to get him.  Avon feels guilty for letting Blake walk into a trap that he is partly responsible for.  Although Avon has made it clear in the past that he's no fan of Blake he obviously doesn't want to be the one responsible for Blake's death.

Jenna: Doesn't really do a lot although she does teleport the invading Crimo into deep space.  She also teleports down to the planet for all of 30 seconds, just long enough to become jealous of Blake and Inga's relationship.

Vila: Is quickly singled out by Ushton as being the weak link in the group and is forced by Travis to reveal the single word that would tell anyone on board the Liberator to telport a person up to the ship.  The word, not surprisingly, is 'teleport' something so obvious that I'm surprised Travis needed to torture Vila at all.

Cally: Like Jenna is given little to do.  Her mental powers come into play again as she detects Avon's guilt in letting Blake go down the planet. She also deduces why Avon is feeling guilty but unfortunately neglects to tell anyone what that reason is.


The Federation

Servalan: Finds herself unable to catch the Liberator even with a large contingent of Pursuit ships at her disposal.  She also has a run-in with one of the President's right-hand men - Councillor Joban.  Joban informs her that news of Blake's exploits is spreading, despite the fact that the Federation has been making no official statements about Blake.  Joban makes it very clear that the President is less than impressed with Servalan's handling of Blake. 

Travis: Since becoming a fugitive from the Federation (albeit one that is still secretly working for Servalan), Travis has found himself a group of criminals to ally himself with.  Unfortunately for him, Travis' Five are no match for Blake's Seven and all of Travis' men are killed while Travis himself is caught and tied up.  Not his finest hour.


Mark's Remarks

In my review for the last episode, I said that my memory of 'Hostage'was very dim.  Having re-watched the episode I can see why.  It's not a bad episode (in fact it's one of the more action packed ones) but it's overly memorable either.

One of the high points of the episode is Servalan's meeting with Councillor Joban - a character who appears in one scene and will never be seen or heard of again but who makes an immediate impact.  He is clearly Servalan's superior in every way and it's rare to see Servalan on the back-foot.


Another very good scene is Travis' interrogation of Vila. Michael Keating as Vila looks genuinely terrified by Travis which is quite impressive considering that Brian Croucher as Travis looks less than threatening as he tries to get Vila say the word 'teleport'.

That's about it for good stuff.  There are quite a few issues with this episode, in particular Blake's interesting relationship with his cousin - something that might be frowned upon today but clearly everyone is fine with it the enlightened far future of Blake's Seven.  There's also the fact that the planet Exbar is apparently low on oxygen so Blake is advised to move slowly.  This is advice that everyone ignores as they run about all over the place and have action-packed fight scenes with one another.  Oh, and the action scenes which top and tail this episode really feel like padding for what feels like a very slim story.

Next time we find that Avon has another friend in 'Countdown'. 

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